Where to go Hiking Near Nashville

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hugely popular
Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hugely popular | © Francisco Blanco / Alamy Stock Photo
Georgie Young

If you’re looking for a city where you can explore waterfalls by day and tap a cowboy boot to some of country music’s finest by night, look no further than Nashville. Our local insiders have recommended some of the best hiking in and around Music City.

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Percy Warner Park

Out of the two Warner Parks, Percy is your best bet for hiking. The entrance to its trails is marked by a cascade of limestone steps that are a popular spot for fitness enthusiasts and wedding photographers alike. The 8mi (13km) of forest-filled hiking that lie behind the steps are similarly stately, with wide tree-lined avenues criss-crossing deer-dotted woodland and small streams. It’s a good spot if you’ve forgotten your hiking boots, as nearly all of the trails are paved – and this also makes it excellent horse-riding country, too. Recommended by local insider Chaney Churd

Montgomery Bell Trail

Montgomery Bell State Park, a 45-minute drive west of Nashville, is named after an iron industries mogul who built his empire here in the 1800s. Stick with the theme by bringing your golfing irons and take to the 18-hole course that’s also named after the prestigious Mr Bell. However, the real reason to come here is the overnight hiking trail. It spans just over 10mi (16km), so you’ll spend a couple of days following a stream into some of Nashville’s most beautiful heartland before spending the night in a hammock swinging from a log shelter. Recommended by local insider Chaney Churd

Narrows of the Harpeth River

At just over 1 mile (1.6km) long, this is one of the shortest out-and-back hikes you can do in Nashville. The woodland walk takes you along the banks of the Harpeth River to a small but stunning waterfall that pours out of a rocky mouth at the end of the track. For a longer trail, take the left fork as you approach the falls and head up the steep terraced stairs. Here, you’ll be able to stand on top of the waterfall and see the entirety of Harpeth Valley stretched out beneath you. Recommended by local insider Chaney Churd

The Blue Hole

This very short trail proves that sometimes (when hiking, anyway) it’s more about the destination than the journey. The quick, damp hop is not even 1/2mi (1km) long, but it’s the only way to get to a collection of small waterfalls that rush into bright green swimming pools. The icy water is ideal for cooling off on a hot summer’s day, and the 35ft (11m) larger fall crashes into a pool deep enough for braver visitors to jump into from the top. Recommended by local insider Chaney Churd

Volunteer Trail

Hiking this trail to completion will take you 10mi (16km) around the shores of Percy Priest Lake, but it’s fairly easy to pick and choose your favorite sections if you’re looking for a shorter trip. On one side of the winding route sits the huge expanse of Nashville’s largest lake; on the other you’ll enjoy the lush vegetation of Long Hunter State Park. It’s at its best in autumn, when the trees turn shimmering shades of red and orange. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso

The Trails at Fontanel

There’s nothing that screams Nashville more than music – expect, perhaps, this route that mingles concerts with cross-country trails. The path begins directly opposite the Woods at Fontanel, an outdoor amphitheater music venue on the mansion property built for country music legend Barbara Mandrell. While a huge crowd can be found here whenever there’s an act lined up, the trails themselves are blissfully quiet. The route zigzags through the trees of Whites Creek Valley and past the magnificent Fontanel Mansion before finishing back at the Woods. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso

Long Hunter State Park

There are 2,600 wild acres (1,052ha) that beckon at this state park. Choose the Bryant Grove Trail to check two bodies of water off your list, starting at huge Percy Priest Lake and working your way to Bryant Grove Creek 4mi (6km) later. You’ll have left the crowds at Percy Priest, so you’ll have this blissful stretch of sandy beach practically to yourself – although you may be interrupted by the occasional curious deer. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso

Cumberland River Greenway

For a more urban adventure, take to the trail running along the built-up sides of the Cumberland River. The path is awash with photo opportunities and will take you past some of Nashville’s best-known urban landmarks, starting with proposal hotspot John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and finishing at the Nissan Stadium, where you’ll be able to assess how well NFL team, the Tennessee Titans, are playing from the level of noise on match day. Turn and look back here for a view of downtown Nashville that’s well worth a photo, too. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso

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